Mountain was (and is) a hard working rock band whose influence at times reached beyond their talent.
Felix Pappalardi produced the legendary album Wheels Of Fire by Cream. Inspired by that experience he decided to form his own power trio, recruiting guitarist Leslie West and forming Mountain. One of their first live performances was at Woodstock in 1969, and Corky Laing joined on drums shortly afterwards.
Mountain quickly developed into a quintessential but somewhat overlooked hard rock trio, known for the big hit "Mississippi Queen," and Pappalardi up and died in 1983. West and Laing, with a variety of bassists, continue to tour as Mountain today.
Live In Paris find Mountain live in 1985 as the opening act for Deep Purple’s European tour. Here West and Laing are joined by bassist Michael Clarke. The DVD, however, isn't quite the experience one would hope.
First, the production is second-rate, even for 1985. The video is dark with few camera angles. These performances have gone unissued for 20 years, which probably means it was casually recorded and not meant for release. Secondly, Mountain had little or no development in their sound since their origin, meaning they sound the same as they did when they formed. This posits the question of what kind of demand there is for a Mountain DVD.
As it turns out, not much. “Why Dontcha” and “Never In My Life” are presented as a medley; West quickly establishes himself as an effortless guitarist and a master of reverb. Unfortunately he is a shouter more than a vocalist, and not a flashy frontman, even though the extended guitar-drum interplay is excellent.
“Theme For An Imaginary Western” is the best song on the DVD. Clarke switches to keyboards and takes over the vocals, showing a much better vocal style than West. Also, the keyboards provide a fuller sound and allow West more room to explore his guitar sound.
“Spark” was a new song in 1985. West and Clarke share vocals but again it is the keyboards that fill in the sound, although the guitar is pretty amazing. “Nantucket Sleighride” is back to basics, with West displaying some of the fastest fingers this side of Alvin Lee. He incorporates a wonderful “Hall Of The Mountain King” bridge into the middle of the song, which is unfortunately as creative as Mountain gets. “Nantucket Sleighride” also contains the obligatory, if ordinary, extended drum solo. “Mississippi Queen” ends the concert with (why not?) a giant cowbell, but by this point one wonders how many times an artist can play a song and still be interesting?
Overall, Live In Paris is a nice place to visit once, but probably not twice, and certainly no more than that.